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Oregon Paternity Project - Information for Parents

There are many reasons parents choose to establish legal paternity. Whether or not the parents are in a relationship, creating a record of a child's biological parentage is an important step toward granting a child's access to:

  • Legal and social benefits, including the father's medical insurance, and Social Security, veterans', workers' compensation and inheritance benefits

  • The father's medical history, which helps a child's doctor treat and manage their health as they grow into adulthood

  • International travel--without a legal father on the birth certificate a child may not be able to get a U.S. Passport

  • The emotional benefit of knowing who their father is
     

Frequently Asked Questions

What is paternity? Paternity is the process of establishing who the legal father of a child is. Legal paternity puts the father's name on the child's birth certificate and allows the child access to all of the rights and benefits to which they are entitled from their legal father.

How is paternity established? When parents are married to each other paternity is automatically established by the marriage. When parents are not married, paternity can be established by completing a form called a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, or through a court or administrative legal process.

Where can parents complete the paperwork to establish paternity? If both parents are present at the hospital when the child is born, a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form is usually signed at the hospital. If the father is not present at the birth or if there is an error on the form, paternity cannot be legally established for the child until an accurate form is completed, notarized and filed with Oregon Vital Records.

Free services are available to help qualifying parents through the process of establishing paternity for their child (see Who to Contact).

How do I know whether or not legal paternity has been established for my child? If legal paternity has been established, the father's name will be listed on a child's birth certificate. Parents may order a certified copy of their child's birth certificate from Oregon Vital Records by submitting a Birth Record Order Form, or calling (971) 673-1190 (see Who to Contact).

If your child was not born in Oregon, please contact the Vital Records office in the state where they were born to order a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate

What if the other parent does not want to establish paternity? Either parent may pursue a court or administrative process to establish legal paternity. A genetic test may be used to determine if the alleged father is the biological parent.

Free genetic testing is available to qualifying parents (see Who to Contact).

Is there a way to prove who the child's biological father is? Both the child's mother and alleged father may request a test to either prove or disprove biological parentage of a child. The test, also called a DNA test, uses genetic material gathered by swabbing the inside of the cheek of the child, mother and alleged father. These tests are simple, accurate and will determine if the man tested has the genetic markers required to be the biological father.

Free genetic testing is available to qualifying parents (see Who to Contact).

I'm a dad. What are the benefits to me if I establish paternity? Legal paternity may be necessary for a father and child before a court can order visitation or custody. It also allows fathers to make sure certain rights and benefits are passed on to his child if something happens to him. Such benefits include inheritance rights, Social Security benefits, veterans' benefits, workers' compensation, etc. It also lets the father demonstrate that he is committed to the child, and puts his name on the birth certificate.

If I establish paternity for my child, does that mean I will have to apply for or start paying child support? No. Establishing paternity doesn't mean a parent automatically has to start paying child support. But, either the mother or father can ask for a support order to be taken, if they want child support. Or, if a family applies for certain government programs, such as welfare, then paternity establishment and child support can become part of the process.

My partner and I are unmarried, but in a committed relationship and raising our family together. Why should I worry about establishing legal paternity? Even in the happiest relationships, circumstances can change. Legal paternity must be established in order for your child to have access to the father's medical history, medical insurance, and Social Security, veterans', workers' compensation and inheritance benefits. If you and your partner separate later on, establishing legal fatherhood now ensures your child's access to all important health information and financial benefits to which they are entitled.

Legal paternity may be necessary for a father and child before a court can order visitation or custody rights.

There are free services available to parents who would like to establish legal paternity for their child.

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